Spring has sprung and with it a slew of festivals that even April showers can't hinder. Among the best this month are an Appalachian mushroom festival, a firey eating contest, and a celebration of beer and cheese.
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ, Cary, NC, April 5-6: Pig pickings are a culinary rite of passage in the Carolinas, and this traveling festival is bringing one to the Triangle area. Admission gets attendees a souvenir glass, unlimited tastings of the more than 60 beers and 40 bourbons as well as BBQ not restricted to pulled pork. There will be briskets, ribs, sausages and more. For those interested in a 'cue education, there will be seminars and lectures. The only thing missing to perfect the fete would be bluegrass acts and eating contests. Oh, wait! There's will be those, too!
Pear Blossom Festival, Medford, Ore., April 8-9: This festival, now in its 58th year, includes Pear-A-Fare, the opening event that pairs food and beverages from local artisans. Also part of the celebration is Dare-To-Pear, for which the public may visit downtown business to sample pear recipes paired with local wines. Square dancers, a race, a ballroom dancing competition, and a stamp show round out the weekend.
Prairie Dog Chili Cookoff, Grand Prairie, Tex., April 9: While this 36th annual competition is ostensibly centered around the Lone Star State's official dish, the real draw is the jalapeño-soaked pickled quail egg eating contest. This insanity involves consuming as many fireballs as one can in 60 seconds. It's a must-see if you're in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Earth Day Wine & Food Festival, Templeton, Calif., April 15-17: The Pomar Junction Vineyard and Winery will be the site of much merriment and a focus on seasonal eating and locavorism this month. Visitors will be able to interact with the farmers who have provided the comestibles for the weekend celebration of the culinary here-and-now. Chefs and vendors will also be hand with more than the 200 wines and dishes. Bonus: The silent auction benefs Central Coast Vineyard Team's sustainable agriculture research.
Between the Bluffs Beer, Wine & Cheese Festival, La Crosse, Wisc., April 23: If you're reading this blog, you know that life is nothing without beer, wine and cheese, and no one knows this better than Wisconsinites. Visitors to this festival in La Crosse can sample more than 200 types of beer, approximately 45 different wines -- and mounds and mounds of cheese. There will also be live cooking, live music, and homebrewing demos.
Mountain Mushroom Festival, Irvine, Ky., April 30-May 1: The last weekend in April will bring out fungus lovers from all around, many of whom will participate in the festival's cooking competition. There will also be a mushroom market, a car show, and a 5K run.